As an Employer, What Are You Doing This Employee Wellness Month?
By Becca Freiberg
Every June, National Employee Wellness Month highlights the need for companies to make efforts in focusing on employees’ overall health. Statistics show that when employee wellness is prioritized, productivity increases, turnover decreases and employees report a more positive company culture.
Society Insurance, which specializes in insurance policies for the hospitality industry in Colorado, has developed tips for employers to create a well-balanced workplace that prioritizes employees’ physical, mental and social health.
Physical health: Four benefits of movement throughout the day – and how to encourage it among employees.
Studies show that a sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to overall health, decreasing blood flow and creating joint issues from posture. Benefits of regular movement throughout the day and daily stretching include:
- Reducing Fatigue. Stretching at work can reduce fatigue by increasing blood supply and nutrients to your muscles.
- Preventing Muscle Strain Injuries. Stretching is waking up your muscles to let them know that they will be performing a job. Stretching warms up the muscles by working them gently – just like an athlete.
- Improving Posture. Stretching can improve posture by allowing muscle tissues to realign, thus reducing effort to achieve and maintain good posture. Often these muscles have adapted poorly to effects of gravity and poor postural habits.
- Increasing Muscle Coordination and Balance. Stretching also helps opposing muscle groups work in a more coordinated fashion.
Though you can’t control how your employees take care of themselves off-hours, you can instill a workplace culture that values their health through small but effective changes that encourage movement. Society Insurance consulted with a registered nurse and a certified physical trainer to determine the stretches that work best to reduce injuries to shoulders, back, wrists and knees. We put together this five-minute video that highlights those stretches: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qm-nGLYBelY&t=235s.
Emotional health: How to recognize signs of burnout and, more importantly, how to avoid it.
In 2019, the World Health Organization declared burnout an occupational phenomenon. Teach managers to be on the lookout if their employees are:
- Impatient or irritable with other co-workers
- More sensitive than usual. If an employee who has been open to constructive criticism in the past is now combative when confronted about their performance, this employee could be experiencing burnout. Watch for signs of the employee becoming emotional and pushing back when feedback is provided to them.
- Missing work more frequently. An employee who has an uptick of absences may be experiencing burnout. This employee may find it hard to get out of bed or may be ill due to high stress affecting the body.
- Exhibiting signs of exhaustion
- Making more mistakes. Detail oriented employees who are experiencing burnout may start making mistakes on projects.
More importantly, teach managers how to prevent burnout:
- Equip those in charge to understand employee workload. Weekly or bi-weekly check-ins with employees will help managers remain up-to-date on what each employee is working on.
- Make well-being part of your culture. Encourage exercise, a work-life balance, PTO usage, and discourage excessively long hours or putting work ahead of family.
- Talk about it. Incorporate burnout-related conversations into meetings and gatherings. Provide tools to address burnout such as helpful webinars or bring in speakers for a “lunch and learn.”
Social health: Practice effective team building, even if it needs to be socially distanced.
No matter the year, maintaining social interaction is crucial for a company and can improve productivity and reduce burnout. For many teams, it has been over a year since remote work began. Working remotely can lead to emotional isolation and stress. Socially distanced team-building activities will keep your employees engaged, improve productivity, allow an opportunity to check in with one another, and provide a sense of inclusion.
To strengthen those relationships, managers can build in virtual biweekly or weekly one-on-one meetings. Try starting the meeting with a personal check-in, asking how things are going with the family or asking what house projects/hobbies the employee may be working on. It’s also a good time to gauge an employee’s mental well-being and provide them with resources (or connect them with HR) if they need assistance.
For team activities, spice up your remote meetings by setting aside 10-20 minutes for activities such as:
- Costume contests (holiday, themes, formal Fridays)
- Team building games such as trivia, Pictionary, etc. (For more game ideas, click here.)
- Group stretching classes
- Coming together to fundraise
In a year when the traditional workplace structure has been uprooted entirely, it has never been more important for employers to do what they can to ensure employees are appreciated, taken care of and respected. During National Employee Wellness Month and beyond, let’s find positive ways to look after ourselves, our loved ones and our employees.
Becca Freiberg, human resources generalist, Society Insurance, has worked in HR for six years and has experience in benefits, wellness, recruitment, employee engagement and development. Becca joined Society Insurance in 2019.
Society Insurance launched in Colorado in 2020. Society Insurance provides policies for restaurants, bars, craft breweries and more across Colorado.
Thanks for sharing your tips and suggestions, Becca! Creating an employee wellness program is an important step in improving the health and productivity of employees .